April 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm (Publications)
Tags: autopoiesis, life-mind continuity, phenomenon of life, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind
Prof. Dr. Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic and Dr. Robert Lowe guest-edited a special issue of the journal Entropy on the topic “Information-Processing and Embodied, Embedded, Enactive Cognition” to which I contributed an article with Michael Kirchhoff.
Where There is Life There is Mind: In Support of a Strong Life-Mind Continuity Thesis
Michael D. Kirchhoff and Tom Froese
This paper considers questions about continuity and discontinuity between life and mind. It begins by examining such questions from the perspective of the free energy principle (FEP). The FEP is becoming increasingly influential in neuroscience and cognitive science. It says that organisms act to maintain themselves in their expected biological and cognitive states, and that they can do so only by minimizing their free energy given that the long-term average of free energy is entropy. The paper then argues that there is no singular interpretation of the FEP for thinking about the relation between life and mind. Some FEP formulations express what we call an independence view of life and mind. One independence view is a cognitivist view of the FEP. It turns on information processing with semantic content, thus restricting the range of systems capable of exhibiting mentality. Other independence views exemplify what we call an overly generous non-cognitivist view of the FEP, and these appear to go in the opposite direction. That is, they imply that mentality is nearly everywhere. The paper proceeds to argue that non-cognitivist FEP, and its implications for thinking about the relation between life and mind, can be usefully constrained by key ideas in recent enactive approaches to cognitive science. We conclude that the most compelling account of the relationship between life and mind treats them as strongly continuous, and that this continuity is based on particular concepts of life (autopoiesis and adaptivity) and mind (basic and non-semantic).
April 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm (Presentations)
Tags: cognitive archaeology, origins of art, symbolic mind
I was invited to give a talk at UNAM’s Instituto de Investigaciones Filosoficas this Wednesday as part of the Rationality, Reasoning, and Cognition seminar series. The title of my contribution is “How did humans overcome the cognitive gap? On the origins of the symbolic mind”. Details in the flyer below:
March 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm (Events, Presentations)
Tags: anthropology, cognitive science, embodied cognition, embodied memory
The Marsilius-Kolleg is organizing a conference series on the topic of comprehensive anthropology.
Next month the series will start with an International Conference on the Formation of Embodied Memory, which will take place at the University of Heidelberg, April 6-8. I was invited to give a talk:
Dynamics of Embodied Memory: Temporality, Spatiality, and Sociality
This talk presents a dynamical systems analysis of the temporal processes that contribute to the constitution of embodied memory. Three kinds of extra-neural processes will be considered: 1) physiological dynamics, 2) movement dynamics, and 2) social interaction dynamics. Their potential to serve as forms of memory will be illustrated on the basis of three simple agent-based models. These examples help to demonstrate the problems faced by a purely brain-based account of the self and its capacities. They also support the adoption of a broader notion of forgetting, which takes into account the cognitive effects of undergoing changes in one’s relationship to the spatial and social environment, for example displacement from one’s home and separation from one’s acquaintances.
March 28, 2017 at 2:48 pm (General, Publications)
Tags: adaptive behavior, complex adaptive systems
After many years of service to the community, Ezequiel Di Paolo has stepped down as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Adaptive Behavior.
I will take over the reins from the current issue onward.
It’s going to be a tough act to follow, but I hope that I will be able to further consolidate the journal as a truly interdisciplinary forum for current research in the mind sciences.
For more information, please read the editorial we co-authored to mark this transition.
Please consider sending us your latest work! 🙂
March 14, 2017 at 12:36 pm (Presentations)
Tags: agent-based models, autonomy, autopoiesis, indeterminism, phenomenon of life
I was invited to lead the discussion in a session of the Seminar of Science and Society at the Centre for the Sciences of Complexity. I will focus on the relationship between autonomy and uncertainty. Details can be found in the flyer below:
March 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm (Publications)
Tags: cybernetics, meaning, mortality, phenomenon of life, self-production
I was invited to contribute a chapter to the book Representation and Reality in Humans, Animals and Machines edited by Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic and Raffaela Giovagnoli to be published by Springer.
Life is precious because it is precarious: Individuality, mortality, and the problem of meaning
Computationalism aspires to provide a comprehensive theory of life and mind. It fails in this task because it lacks the conceptual tools to address the problem of meaning. I argue that a meaningful perspective is enacted by an individual with a potential that is intrinsic to biological existence: death. Life matters to such an individual because it must constantly create the conditions of its own existence, which is unique and irreplaceable. For that individual to actively adapt, rather than to passively disintegrate, expresses a value inherent in its way of life, which is the ultimate source of more refined forms of normativity. This response to the problem of meaning will not satisfy those searching for a functionalist or logical solution, but on this view such a solution will not be forthcoming. As an intuition pump for this alternative perspective I introduce two ancient foreign worldviews that assign a constitutive role to death. Then I trace the emergence of a similar conception of mortality from the cybernetics era to the ongoing development of enactive cognitive science. Finally, I analyze why orthodox computationalism has failed to grasp the role of mortality in this constitutive way.
And with kind help of Laura Rodríguez Benavidez a Spanish version is also available.
February 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm (Uncategorized)
This week I was invited by Prof. Hiro Iizuka, on behalf of the Department of Information Science and Technology at Hokkaido University, to continue collaborations with the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems Engineering.
During my stay I will also give two public seminars:
15:00 on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Department of Information Science and Technology:
“Using big data to study the social mind: brain, language, and urbanism”
17:15 on Thursday, Feb. 23, Graduate School of Letters:
“The mysterious origins of the symbolic mind”
December 13, 2016 at 2:21 pm (Teaching)
Tags: agent-based models, artificial life, cognitive science, complex systems, cybernetics, human-computer interface
Here is the information about the course I will teach at UNAM next semester.
The course will introduce ongoing debates in cognitive science about our changing understanding of the mind. Instead of being thought of as a digital computer inside the brain, mind is now widely considered to be an embodied, embedded and extended activity in the world. These ideas will be illustrated based on case studies of research in agent-based models, complex systems and human-computer interfaces, with special emphasis on demonstrating how social interactions and technologies shape our mind.
Students are not expected to program models nor to design interfaces, but to understand the implications of the new cognitive science and to apply them to their own research interests.
The course will be taught mainly in English to better prepare students for the special terms used by leading researchers in cognitive science.
For an introduction to this field, see this video: http://vimeo.com/107691239
Here is the official course information:
Posgrado en Ciencia e Ingeniería de la Computación (PCIC)
Plan: Maestría en Ciencia e Ingeniería de la Computación (Clave 80-4014)
Actividad académica: Temas Selectos de Inteligencia Artificial
Tema: Agentes autónomos y multiagentes (o: “Agentes Autónomos, Sistemas Sociales, y la Nueva Ciencia Cognitiva”)
Horarios: Lunes y Miércoles, 11:30 – 13:00
Profesor: Dr. Tom Froese
The course program can be downloaded here.